I confess that on Election Day this past November I didn't vote my conscience or my pocketbook. I walked into the polling place and asked myself the question that both presidential candidates asked me: "Am I better off today than I was four years ago?" The answer, unfortunately, was no.
Four years ago I didn't have hair in my ears.
This new condition was pointed out to me by my daughtersthey sit on either side of me at the kitchen tablewho, given the delicacy of the topic, were sensitive enough to mention it during dinner. "Yuck," said the one. "Gross," said the other. "I'm going to eat on the couch," said the spouse.
The very next weekend, the woman who cuts my hair carefully broached the same topic: "You know, while I'm at it why don't we just run these clippers in those ears and clean 'em up a little."
With these words still ringing in my head (although it could have been the sound of electric clippers), I stood alone in the voting booth and pulled the lever for the only candidate who understands what it means to endure the humiliation of young children ("Hey Dad, I like your new earphones! Hah, hah, hah!") and, occasionally, the attentions of nest-seeking birds.
Who was this candidate? It was Ralph Nader, a man long admired for his consumer advocacy, his deep social conscience, and, to a lesser extent, his ample ear hair. (Not to mention his bushy eyebrows.)
But the election is over, and it makes no sense to keep fantasizing about a Nader presidency. ("A rock. A river. An air bag.") The election, after all, is not about personalities. It's about freedom and democracy and the fact that, in our great country, a childany child, regardless of race, religion, or creedcan grow up to accept questionable campaign contributions from lobbyists.
I just get all choked up when I think about it.
May I Take Your Order?
Ear hair is just another reminder that we baby boomers are aging and that one of these days the staff here will move from the prestige of working at Sojourners to the fast-paced, high-esteem world of the McDonald's senior citizen server. Of course, retired Sojourners folks may have a less-than-helpful attitude:
CUSTOMER: I'll have a quarter-pounder with cheese, please.
SENIOR SERVER: Sorry. Too greasy. Choose something else.
CUSTOMER: But I don't want something else. I want a hamburger.
SENIOR SERVER: A hamburger!? Do you realize how much saturated fat is in a hamburger?!
CUSTOMER: Yes. And I want some fries, too.
SENIOR SERVER: Fries?! How about a nice side order of asbestos? While you're at it, how about some cigarettes? Unfiltered, of course. Or why don't you just take a loaded gun and....
CUSTOMER: Hold up, old timer. I just want to eat lunch. Now gimme my food.
SENIOR SERVER: Look here, young man, I don't like your tone. In my day we believed in things like good nutrition, good values, and respecting our elders. (Well, maybe not the respecting our elders part. They were so...out of it. Once, I was really rockin' to this Steppenwolf song, and my dad came in and....) What was I talking about?...Oh yes. Is my hat on straight? It's kinda small. But I like it. It's a good hat....Do you like my hat?
CUSTOMER: I'll just have a salad.
To get a glimpse of this columnist's more sensitive side, see Close to Home, where the writer tenderly reflects for an entire page without a single superfluous or inappropriate comic remark. (They were all deleted by the editors.)
Dead Sea Scrolls Update
Scholars have recently translated newly unearthed scrolls containing what turned out to be the Second Letter to the Galatians:
1.Grace to you, brothers and sisters, and peace from God the Father, to whom be the glory forevermore and so forth and so on. Amen. Whatever.
2. Anyway, I think I left my wallet at your place last weekend, and I was wondering if you could send it to me. A centurion stopped me yesterday, and the only ID card I had was from Blockbusters, so he got all grumpy.
3. (It was on the Road to Damascus and, as you know, the last thing I needed was another hassle on that highway.)
4. So, anyway, if you could look for that wallet I'd be eternally grateful. (Although I'm still trying to figure out that "eternal" thing. Will we really live forever? Is heaven in the clouds? And if so, is there gravity? Do you have to be careful not to drop stuff?)
5. Lots of big questions. But don't worry. I'll get around to them soon.
Finally, A Little Color
For the past 25 years, black ink has served us well, and why the heck not? After all, black ink can be used in endless creative variations: black on white, white with black on it, black on white (oops, I did that one already).
But we feel that black ink alone is no longer of service to the kingdom (which is what we say around here when we want to spend a little extra money). So we've decided to add color to each issue: bold, rich color that makes strong statements about our faith; vivid color that brings even more energy to powerful images, such as the little guy on the left. Without color he would have looked sort of boring. But with color...wow!